[Nonfiction Wednesday] Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Freedom Fighters, Thinkers, and Heroes

Myra here.

We are delighted to dedicate our Wednesdays to featuring nonfiction titles, as per usual. We would also be linking our nonfiction choices with our reading theme throughout the year, when we can.

This year, we hope to feature books that fit any of the following criteria:

  1. Postcolonial literature and/or [pre/post] revolutionary stories
  2. Stories by indigenous / first-nation peoples / people of colour
  3. Narratives of survival and healing, exile and migration, displacement and dispossession
  4. Books written or illustrated by people who have been colonized, oppressed, marginalized

Heroes, Rebels, And Innovators: Inspiring Aboriginal And Torres Strait Islander People From History (Amazon | Book Depository)

Written by Karen Wyld Illustrated by Jaelyn Biumaiwai
Published by: Lothian Children’s Books (2021) ISBN: 073441983X (ISBN13: 9780734419835) Bought a copy of the book. Book photos taken by me.

A few weeks back, I shared First Nations stories from Australia here after realizing belatedly that I have not featured any books from Australia for our current reading theme on #DecolonizeBookshelves2022. Featuring this book is another attempt to rectify that oversight.

There are seven Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people featured in this book – most are fearless freedom fighters, forgotten thinkers, heroes and rebels in the country known now as Australia.

One of the first things that struck me is this story of Patyegarang, who learned the language of the colonizer and taught British Lieutenant William Dawes the Darug language.

Interestingly, the book cover showed a more modest version of Patyegarang’s profile – even as the inner pages showed her in her naked-breasted glory. This made me wonder about the politics of book production, marketing, and publishing that still effectively attempts to diminish the full glory and beauty of First Nations people.

Mohara Wacandu-Lifu also caught my eye – the fierce swimmer who carried and saved two sailors from a cyclone. The image of her carrying two grown White men on her back is a symbol of everything that First Nations women have experienced and continue to struggle with ever since the White men claimed to have “discovered” the cities they have shamelessly plundered and conquered.

While I would have wanted more stunning illustrations from Biumaiwai, this is a good primer to know more about people from Australia’s history who have resisted settlers and colonizers and saved them from natural disasters because of their folly and weaknesses. It is a book that needs to find its way into more bookshelves around the world.


#DecolonizeBookshelves2022 Update: 62 out of target 100

July 6, 2022 at 06:31AM Myra Garces-Bacsal